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High Q Imaging’s portable MRI wins MIT $100K Pitch Competition

Technology could bring imaging to doctors' offices, ambulances, and athletic fields.

November 2, 2016

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Charles Barr, SB '13, MBA ’18, and Michael Harradon, SB ’13, MNG ’14, of High Q Imaging

High Q Imaging took the $3,000 top prize in last night’s MIT $100K Pitch Competition for technology that reduces the cost and weight of MRI machines, bringing them to doctors' offices, ambulances, and eventually even to the sidelines of athletic fields. The technology is in development.

“Our aim is to develop a device that costs under $200,000, and weighs under 200 pounds,” said co-founder Charles Barr, MBA ’18. “The applications are tremendous. Stroke victims can be imaged in an ambulance during the critical golden hour. Fewer invasive procedures will be required of patients because we can simply image them, instead of doing a biopsy. Those dreaded hospital wait times will go down.”

“We can bring MRIs to where traumatic brain injuries occur, from military conflicts to natural disasters, to even a football field,” he said.

High Q Imaging is building on research done at Stanford University and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Current MRI machines can cost more than $2 million, weigh 10 tons, and can only be used practically in hospitals and dedicated imaging centers.

The MIT $100K Pitch Competition is the first of three annual contests held by the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The grand prize winner of the third competition, held in the spring, receives the $100,000 prize. Pitch centers on a 90 second elevator pitch of an idea. There were 148 applicants this year, with 23 finalist teams performing their pitches before an audience on campus.

Barr, who holds undergradute degrees from MIT in political science and economics, and co-founder Michael Harradon, SB ’13, MNG ’14, are practiced in pitching. High Q Imaging was a finalist at this summer’s MassChallenge startup accelerator. They plan to return to the laboratory to work on proof of concept, raise funds, and file for patents.

Infinite Cooling won the $2,000 second prize and nearly won the audience choice award after an applause meter-style tie-breaker with Smart News. The company is working on using electric fields to capture and reintroduce water to power plant cooling systems, conserving water and saving power companies millions per year in water costs. The co-founders are Maher Damak and Karim Khalil, both MIT PhD candidates in mechanical engineering.

Smart News won the audience choice award with a platform that tailors news readers’ experience to their habits and preferences. The co-founders are Anum Hussain and Molly Spector, both MBA ’18.

The next phase of the MIT $100K is Accelerate, where teams move past the pitch and develop a prototype with mentor guidance and customer research. Ten finalists will make public presentations on Feb. 15 for a $10,000 prize. Applications are available beginning Nov. 22 and are due Dec. 4.